Disaster in the news

Technicality denies producers disaster relief 

AG Weekly - 32 minutes ago
Editor’s note: An amendment, supported by 57 senators, to provide more than $4.5 billion in ag disaster aid was defeated Sunday on a procedural point by a small group of senators.
Today is disaster preparation day 
Los Angeles Times - Jan 11 3:09 AM
Even if you don't live paycheck to paycheck, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says you may be one disaster away from financial ruin.

Not Really a "Disaster" 
PC Magazine via Yahoo! News - Jan 10 4:52 AM
Commentary: Disaster recovery usually focuses on huge, catastrophic events. What about less-devastating—but still upsetting—incidents?

Macca Divorce Row Biggest PR Disaster 
Sky News via Yahoo! UK & Ireland News - Jan 10 9:40 PM
The Heather Mills-Paul McCartney divorce row has been voted the biggest public relations disaster of 2006.

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A disaster (from Middle French désastre, from Beauiful Disaster Old Italian disastro, from Latin pejorative Beautifu Disaster prefix dis- bad + astrum star) is the impact of a natural or man-made Bautiful Disaster hazard that negatively affects society or environment. Disasters occur when hazards strike in vulnerable areas. Disasters are generally more Beautuful Disaster limited in scale than doomsday Beautifil Disaster events, the global impact of which would threaten a large proportion of life on earth. The word disaster's root is Beautiul Disaster from astrology: this implies that when the stars are in a bad position Baeutiful Disaster a bad event will happen.


  • 1 Disaster management
  • 2 Natural disasters
    • 2.1 Avalanche
    • 2.2 Cold
    • 2.3 Drought
    • 2.4 Earthquake
    • 2.5 Epidemics
    • 2.6 Famine
    • 2.7 Fire
    • 2.8 Flood
    • 2.9 Hail
    • 2.10 Heat
    • 2.11 Landslide
    • 2.12 Limnic Beaitiful Disaster Beauttiful Disaster eruption
    • 2.13 Sinkhole
    • 2.14 Solar flare
    • 2.15 Storm surge
    • 2.16 Thunderstorm
    • 2.17 Tornado
    • 2.18 Tropical cyclones
    • 2.19 Tsunami
    • 2.20 Volcanic eruption
    • 2.21 Waterspout
    • 2.22 Winter storm
  • 3 Man-made disasters
    • 3.1 Aviation
    • 3.2 Arson
    • 3.3 CBRNs
    • 3.4 Civil disorder
    • 3.5 Power outage
    • 3.6 Radiation contamination
    • 3.7 Space disasters
    • 3.8 Terrorism
    • 3.9 Transportation
    • 3.10 War
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Disaster management

Main articles: Emergency management and Business continuity planning

Chances of survival after a disaster are greatly improved when people, local governments and emergency services, businesses and national governments prepare survival plans and assemble disaster supplies kits beforehand. What constitutes sufficient preparation is highly dependent on the location and the disasters that are likely to occur in the area.

Natural disasters

A natural hazard can cause a natural disaster. Appearing to arise without direct human involvement, natural disasters are sometimes called acts of God. A natural disaster requires inappropriate human action in an area at risk before the strike of a hazard for it to develop into a disaster. A specific disaster may spawn a secondary disaster that increases the impact. A classic example is an earthquake that causes a tsunami, resulting in coastal flooding.


Main article: Avalanche

An avalanche is a slippage of built-up snow down an incline, possibly mixed with ice, rock, soil or plantlife in what is called a debris avalanche. Avalanches are categorized as either slab or powder avalanches. Avalanches are a major danger in mountainous areas during winter.


Extreme cold snaps are hazardous to humans and their livestock. A 2003 Mongolian cold snap, locally known as a dzud, killed almost 30,000 livestock.


Main article: Drought

A drought is a long-lasting weather pattern consisting of dry conditions with very little or no precipitation. During this period, food and water supplies can run low, and other conditions, such as famine, can result. Droughts can last for several years and are particularly damaging in areas in which the residents depend on agriculture for survival. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s is a famous example of a drought.


An earthquake is a sudden shift or movement in the tectonic plates|tectonic plate in the Earth|Earth's crust. On the surface, this is manifested by shaking of the ground, and can be massively damaging to poorly built structures. Earthquakes occur along geologic fault|fault lines, and are unpredictable. Single earthquakes have killed hundreds of thousands of people, such as in 1976 Tangshan earthquake, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that hit Anchorage, Alaska, and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.


Main articles: Disease, Epidemic, and Pandemic

A disease becomes a disaster when it spreads in a pandemic or epidemic as a massive outbreak of an infectious agent. Disease is historically the most lethal natural disaster with examples like the Spanish flu, Black Death, smallpox, and AIDS.


Main article: Famine

Famine, or food insecurity, is characterized by a widespread lack of food in a region, and can be characterized as a lack of agriculture foodstuffs, a lack of livestock, or a general lack of all foodstuffs required for basic nutrition. Famine is almost always caused by pre-existing conditions, such as drought, but its effects may be exacerbated by social factors, such as conflicts. Particularly devastating examples include the Ethiopian famine, which lasted for many years, and the Irish Potato Famine.


Forest fire
Main articles: Bush fire, Fire, Mine fire, Wildfire, and Firestorm

Bush fires, forest fires and mine fires are generally started by lightning, but also by human negligence or arson. They can burn thousands of square kilometers. If a fire intensifies enough to produce its own winds and "weather", it will form into a firestorm. A good example of a mine fire is the one near Centralia, Pennsylvania: started in 1962, it ruined the town and continues to burn today. Some of the biggest city-related fires are The Great Chicago Fire and The Great Fire of London in 1666.


North Carolina 1916
Main article: Flood

A flood is caused by excess water in a location, usually due to rain from a storm or thunderstorm, or the rapid melting of snow. Other causes can include flooding from water displacement, such as in a landslide, the failure of a dam, an earthquake-induced tsunami, a hurricane's storm surge, or meltwater from volcanic activity. The 1991 Bangladesh cyclone casued massive floods that covered almost three quarters of the nation and left behind a situation of disease and famine. An example of a man-made flood is the one caused by the building of the Vajont Dam in northern Italy in the 1960s; a landslide into the reservoir sent a wave over the dam's crest and into the densely populated valley below.


Main article: Hailstorm

A hailstorm occur when a thunderstorm produces a large amount of hailstones. Hailstorms can be especially devastating to farm fields, ruining crops and damaging farming equipment. The largest recorded hailstones were the size of grapefruits.


Main article: Heat wave

A heat wave is a hazard characterized by extreme heat in an unexpected area. Heat waves are worsened by temperature inversions, katabatic winds, and other phenomena. The worst heat wave in recent history was the European Heat Wave of 2003, which struck Western and Southern Europe.


Main articles: Landslide, Lahar, and Mudslide

A landslide is caused when soil, rocks, trees, structures and other items on slope comes into motion. Landslides can be initiated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or by general instability in the surrounding land caused by deforestation or lack of porous soil. Mudslide, rockslides, and lahars are particular types of landslides. Mudslides, or mud flows is the result of heavy rainfall causing loose soil on steep terrain to collapse and slide. Rockslides is the result of loose rocks and boulders coming into motion. The deadliest recorded landslide occurred in 1985 in Armero, Colombia, when a volcanic eruption caused snow melt to pile up and destroy the town below, killing over 25,000 people.

Limnic eruption

Main article: Limnic Eruption
Lake Nyos, Cameroon

A limnic eruption is a sudden release of asphyxiating or inflammable gas from a lake. Three lakes that are examples of limnic eruptions include Lake Nyos, Lake Monoun, and Lake Kivu. A 1986 limnic eruption of 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 from Lake Nyos suffocated 1,800 people in a 20 mile radius.


Main article: Sinkhole

A sinkhole is a localized depression in the surface terrain, usually caused by the collapse of a subterranean structure, such as a cave. Although rare, large sinkholes that develop suddenly in populated areas can lead to the collapse of buildings and other structures. Florida experiences the majority of America's severe sinkholes.

Solar flare

Main article: Solar flare
Solar flare

A solar flare is a violent explosion in the Sun's atmosphere. Solar flares take place in the solar corona and chromosphere. They produce electromagnetic radiation across the spectrum at all wavelengths. Solar flare emissions are a danger to orbiting satellites, manned space missions, communications systems, and power grid systems. It is expected that the next extreme solar storm may occur in the year 2011. [1]

Storm surge

Main articles: Storm surge and Seiche

A storm surge is an onshore rush of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically a tropical cyclone. A storm surge is caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean's surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea level. Storm surges are particularly damaging when they occur at the time of a high tide, combining the effects of the surge and the tide. The highest storm surge ever recorded was produced by the 1899 Bathurst Bay Hurricane, which caused a 13 m (43 feet) storm surge to pummel the small Australian town. In the US, the greatest recorded storm surge was generated by Hurricane Katrina, which produced a storm surge of 9 m (30 feet) that slammed against the Gulf Coast.


Main article: Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm

A thunderstorm is a form of severe weather characterized by the presence of lightning and thunder, often accompanied by copious rainfall, hail and on occasion snowfall and tornadoes. Thunderstorms can happen anywhere.


Main article: Tornado

A tornado is a natural disaster resulting from a thunderstorm of severe conditions, and is a large funnel of extremely high pressure winds cycling and twisting at random. Tornadoes are measured in power according to the Fujita scale: an F1 being the least powerful and an F5 being the most powerful. Though normally within the American Midwest in a region known as "Tornado Alley", tornadoes can occur almost anywhere. Tornadoes can occur one at a time, or can occur in large tornado outbreaks along a squall line. The most powerful tornado ever recorded in terms of wind speed was the monster which swept through Moore, Oklahoma in 1999 and reached windspeeds of up to 318 mph..one mile below the maximum F5 speed ever considered. Tornadoes do not just stay within rural regions of the world: major cities have had small yet terrifying tornadoes touch down in their downtown sectors before, such as the 1997 waterspout in Miami, Florida, the small twister which touched down in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1999, and a 2001 tornado hitting Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Tropical cyclones

Hurricane Ivan
Main article: Tropical cyclone

A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure cyclonic storm system. It is caused by evaporated water which comes off of the ocean and becomes a storm. The Coriolis effect causes the storms to spin, and a cyclone is declared when this spinning mass of storms attains a wind speed greater than 74mph. Cyclones are known as hurricanes in the Americas and typhoons in eastern Asia. One of the most damaging hurricanes in the United States was Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States Gulf Coast in 2005 and inundated a heavily populated New Orleans, Louisiana. Cyclones can lead to disasters when they make landfall. Once above land they are reduced in intensity and die out.


A tsunami is a giant wave of water which rolls into the shore of an area with heights that can be anywhere from 15 feet to even 50 feet in height. It comes from Japanese language meaning "harbor wave". Tsunamis are caused by undersea earthquakes or landslides, and are not noticed until reaching the shore, where the wave lifts form the rising sea floor. In the 1950s an earthquake in Lituya Bay, Alaska caused a massive landslide to fall into the bay's rear, forming the highest recorded wave in history when the wave passed through the bay's head: over 1720 feet in height. Only two people were killed. The tsunami generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake currently ranks as the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. The tsunami was caused by a 9.2 Richter earthquake caused by a massive shift in pressure between two plates near Sumatra. Currently, the Cascadia Fault along the Northwest coast of the Americas is experiencing the same amount of extreme pressure and may have the same outcome in the near future: a tsunami threatening coastal cities such as Vancouver and Seattle.

Volcanic eruption

Pu'u 'Ō'ō
Main article: Volcano

A volcanic eruption is the point in which a volcano is active and releases its power, and the eruptions come in many forms. They range from daily small eruptions which occur in places like Kilauea in Hawaii, or extremely infrequent supervolcano eruptions in places like Lake Toba in Indonesia or Yellowstone in Wyoming. Some eruptions form pyroclastic flows, which are high-temperature clouds of ash and steam that can trial down mountainsides at speed exceeding an airliner. The eruption of Mount Pelee of the Caribbean in 1902 incinerated the entire town of Saint-Pierre in Martinique below. The more famous example is of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the city of Pompeii, Italy in 79 A.D. and its resident in heaps of ash, and the remains were later recovered preserved and intact. Recent large volcanic eruptions include that of Mount St. Helens in Washington and Krakatoa in Indonesia, occurring in 1980 and 1883, respectively. The latter was one of the loudest eruptions in the world. Mount St. Helens spewed ash all across the Western states, and even caused the sun to appear green in areas. Some volcanoes are dormant, or "sleeping", but may erupt soon, such as Mount Rainier in Washington and Mount Fuji in Japan.


Main article: Waterspout

A waterspout is a tornadic weather phenomenon normally occurring over tropical waters in light rain conditions. They form at the base of cumulus-type clouds and extend to the water surface where winds pick up water spray. Waterspouts are dangerous to boats, planes and land structures. Most of the time waterspouts are produced in semitropical regions of the world, but the majority of them occur in the Bermuda Triangle and are suspected of being the cause of the many missing ships and planes in that region. One unruly waterspout made its way into downtown Miami, Florida in 1997 and caused quite a scare with the locals.

Winter storm

Main articles: Blizzard, Winter storm, and Freezing rain

A snowstorm is a winter storm in which the primary form of precipitation is snow. When such a storm is accompanied by winds above 32 mph that severely reduce visibility, it becomes a blizzard. Hazards from snowstorms and blizzards include traffic-related accidents, hypothermia for those unable to find shelter, as well as major disruptions to transportation and fuel and power distribution systems. The Blizzard of 1888 that diminished the Northeast coast of the United States produced snowpiles around 10-15 feet in height, sometimes even more. A later one struck Syracuse, New York and the Northeast again in 1975, and left drivers stuck inside their snow-covered vehicles along interstates. Another force of the cold is an ice storm which is basically rain that freezes instantly at contact with a surface. One devastating ice storm struck the city of Montreal, Canada in 1998 and destroyed communications and transportation systems.

Man-made disasters

Disasters having an element of human intent, negligence, error or involving a failure of a system are called man-made disasters. They include Wars, Leak of harmful substances ect. Man-made disasters like power or telecommunication outages may be caused by thunderstorms, tornados or earthquakes and though the root cause is a natural phenomenon, they are considered to be man-made disasters.


An aviation incident is an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations, passengers or pilots. The category of the vehicle can range from a helicopter, an airliner, or a space shuttle. One of the more devastating events occurred 1977 on the island of Tenerife of the Canary Islands, when miscommunications between and amongst air traffic control and an aircrew caused two fully loaded jets to collide on the runway, killing over 500 passengers. See the list of air disasters.


A building after arson
Main article: Arson

Arson is the criminal intent of setting a fire with intent to cause damage. The definition of arson was originally limited to setting fire to buildings, but was later expanded to include other objects, such as bridges, vehicles, and private property. Arson is the greatest cause of fires in data repositories. Sometimes, human-induced fires can be accidental: failing machinery such as a kitchen stove is a major cause of accidental fires. [2]


Main article: CBRN

A catch-all initialism meaning Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear. The term is used to describe a non-conventional terror threat that, if used by a nation, would be considered use of a weapon of mass destruction. This term is used primarily in the United Kingdom. Planning for the possibility of a CBRN event may be appropriate for certain high-risk or high-value facilities and governments. Examples include the Halabja poison gas attack on the Kurdish purported by Saddam Hussein, the Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo and the preceding test runs in Matsumoto, Japan 100 kilometers outside of Tokyo [3], and Lord Amherts giving smallpox laden blankets to Native Americans[4].

Civil disorder

Main article: Civil disorder

Civil disorder is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of disturbance. Examples of disastrous civil disorder include, but are not necessarily limited to: riots; sabotage; and other forms of crime. Although civil disorder does not necessarily escalate to a disaster in all cases the event may escalate into general chaos. Rioting has many causes, from low minimum wage to racial segregation. There were riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California in 1968 and 1992. The 1992 riots which started at the intersections of Florence and Normandee streets started immediately after the Rodney King verdict was announced on live TV. About 50 people died in the 1992 riots.

Power outage

Main article: Power outage

A power outage is an interruption of normal sources of electrical power. Short-term power outages (up to a few hours) are common and have minor adverse effect, since most businesses and health facilities are prepared to deal with them. Extended power outages, however, can disrupt personal and business activities as well as medical and rescue services, leading to business losses and medical emergencies. Extended loss of power also interferes with law enforcement, creating opportunities for crime, including vandalism, looting, arson and violent crime, even leading to civil disorder, as in the New York City blackout of 1977. One other example happened in New York City and in the rest of the Northeast United States in 2003, and this time hampered millions of commuters' routes back and forth to work and home. Thousands were seen jumbled in the city's streets, confused and baffled. Only very rarely do power outages escalate to disaster proportions, however, they often accompany other types of disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, which hampers relief efforts.

Radiation contamination

When nuclear weapons are detonated or nuclear containment systems are otherwise compromised, airborne radioactive particles Nuclear fallout can scatter and irradiate large areas. Not only is it deadly, but it is also a long-term effect on the next-generation for those who are contaminated. Ionizing radiation is hazardous to living things, and in such a case much of the affected area could be unsafe for human habitation. In the 1940s United States troops dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: as a result, the radiation fallout contaminated the cities' water supplies and food sources, and half of the populations of each city were stricken with disease. The Soviet republics of Ukraine and Belarus are part of a scenario like this after a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a meltdown in 1986. To this day, several small towns and the city of Chernobyl remain abandoned and uninhabitable due to fallout. In the 1970s a similar threat scared millions of Americans when a failure occurred at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania, which was fortunately resolved with little contamination resulting.

Space disasters

Main article: Space disasters

Space disasters, either during operations or training, have killed around 20 astronauts and cosmonauts, and a much larger number of ground crew and civilians. These disasters include either malfunctions on the ground, during launch or in orbit with technology, or of natural forces. Not all are space disasters result in human fatalities: unmanned orbiting satellites that drop to the Earth can incinerate and send debris spewing across the sky. One of the worst manned space disasters, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion of 1986, cost all of the lives on board. The shuttle exploded several seconds after taking off from the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Another example is the Space Shuttle Columbia which disintegrated during a landing attempt over Texas in 2003, with a loss of 7 astronauts on board. The debris field extended as far as from eastern New Mexico to Mississippi. An example of a space disaster killing nearby residents occurred on the 15 February 1996, in Sichuan Province, China, when a Long March 3B rocket crashed at takeoff.


Main articles: Terrorism and Asymmetric warfare

Terrorism is a controversial term with multiple definitions. One definition means a violent action targeting civilians exclusively. Another definition is the use or threatened use of violence for the purpose of creating fear in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological goal. Under the second definition, the targets of terrorist acts can be anyone, including civilians, government officials, military personnel, or people serving the interests of governments. In the early 21st century, terrorism has been considered a constant threat to all people of the world, after the worst disaster of its kind struck in 2001 (predominantly known as September 11th, 2001, the date of the attack), in which four airliners were hijacked from American international airports: two were flown by the hijackers into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, causing both to collapse, another was flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a final was forced down by passengers' action into a small field in Stonycreek Township outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A total of just under 3,000 people were killed. In 2004, a series of bombings struck several waiting passenger cars in a Madrid, Spain train station, and in 2005 the transportation systems of London, England were bombed in three synchronized locations (some times know as the 7/7 bombings).


Disasters have afflicted travellers by train, bus, and ship. One of the largest transportation disasters in history, not involving an act of War, is the sinking of the RMS Titanic, due to the collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.


Main article: War

War is conflict, between relatively large groups of people, which involves physical force inflicted by the use of weapons. Warfare has destroyed entire cultures, countries, economies and inflicted great suffering on humanity. Other terms for war can include armed conflict, hostilities, and police action. Acts of war are normally excluded from insurance contracts and disaster planning.

See also

Wikibooks has more about this subject:
Historical Disasters and Tragedies
  • Civil protection
  • Data recovery
  • Disaster film
  • Disaster convergence
  • End of civilization
  • Existential risk
  • Failure
  • Hypothetical disaster
  • List of disasters
  • Risk
  • Sociology of disaster
  • Worst natural disasters
  • List of songs about disasters


  • University of Delaware Disaster Research Center
  • Reliefweb
  • Barton A.H. (1969). Communities in Disaster. A Sociological Analysis of Collective Stress Situations. SI: Ward Lock
  • Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster. Susanna M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith, Eds.. Santa Fe NM: School of American Research Press, 2002
  • Quarantelli E.L. (1998). Where We Have Been and Where We Might Go. In: Quarantelli E.L. (ed). What Is A Disaster? London: Routledge. pp146-159
  • Millersville
  • Word Detective

External links

  • United States
    • Department of Homeland Security
    • United States Federal Emergency Management Agency
      • FEMA Preparing an emergency survival kit
      • United States Federal Emergency Management Agency designated hazards
    • United States Citizen Corp Guide
    • Disaster Help United States Egov reference
    • United States Ready Egov reference
    • Natural disaster risk map of the United States
  • Other
    • London Prepared
    • Disaster Psychiatry Outreach
    • EM-DAT information on man-made and natural disasters from 1900 to today.
    • Disasters factsheet
    • Assisting Children and Adolescents in Coping with Disasters
    • Modeling Multi-Hazard Disaster Reduction Strategies with Computer-Aided Morphological Analysis From the Swedish Morphological Society
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